Four North Yorkshire councils submitted a joint bid for £50m from the Government last month to turn the plans into a reality. Now, a Memorandum of Understanding has been drawn up which asks for each party to formally pledge their commitment to delivering a scheme which addresses safety, congestion, accessibility and journey-time issues.
Councils for North Yorkshire, Ryedale, Scarborough and York, as well as the North Yorkshire and East Riding Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and the North Yorkshire Local Transport Body are all named in the agreement.
The Memorandum is recommended for approval by Ryedale District Council at a meeting of its policy and resources committee tonight.
According to a report prepared for councillors by Julian Rudd, Ryedale District Council’s head of economy and infrastructure, the document also importantly includes the Highways Agency which is responsible for the trunk road’s maintainence.
While the agreement falls short of committing those involved to meeting the projected multi-million costs of the project, it does constitute a firm commitment to the upgrade from agencies and authorities across the A64 trunk road’s 60-mile length. If supported, the improvements would be carried out over six years.
In his report, Mr Rudd says: “Improvement of the A64 through Ryedale has been a priority for Ryedale District Council for decades.”
By each named local authority and agency signing the Memorandum, the scheme would be in the strongest possible position to secure the necessary funds for the improvements, he said.
“A co-ordinated joint approach across authorities and agencies provides the best opportunity to secure funding for improvements to the A64 trunk road and making progress to deliver schemes.
“The signing of the Memorandum by all parties shows a long-term commitment to the upgrading of the A64.”
The plans for the upgrade include design work for improvements post 2021, which may see village by-passes installed to the east of Malton.
No significant improvement work or scheme designs for the road have been carried out since 2011, except for improvements to the A64 Brambling Fields junction at Norton, Mr Rudd said, mainly because of a lack of funding, but the LEP has now put forward a strategic economic plan to the Government which includes calling for improvements to the A64 between York and Scarborough.
Should the new agreement be signed by all parties, it will raise hopes that the scheme will move forwards, and not least on the back of comments made by the Prime Minister David Cameron last month, when he admitted, in response to a challenge by Thirsk and Malton MP Anne McIntosh on the state of the A64, that the quality and capacity of Yorkshire’s roads was a “major issue”.
Mr Cameron later said he would “look carefully” at the proposals to improve the A64.
The current £50m bid submitted the North Yorkshire councils has been made to the Local Growth Fund, a fund set up by the Government last year in response to a report by former Deputy Prime Minister Lord Heseltine calling for more money to support efforts to unlock regional growth. The Government is expected to reveal which projects will be given money from the Fund in July.
See tomorrow’s Yorkshire Post for the result of tonight’s meeting of Ryedale District Council’s policy and resources committee to discuss the Memorandum.